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Officials ousted from White House after papers casting doubt on climate science

Officials ousted from White House after papers casting doubt on climate science
© Greg Nash

Two controversial officials who have questioned climate science have been dismissed from the White House after they apparently published papers, which claimed to be from the administration, that promoted skepticism about climate change and its impacts. 

David Legates and Ryan Maue were ousted from the White House after the papers, which purport to be copyrighted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), came to light. 

Office spokesperson Kristina Baum said in a statement posted on Twitter that that OSTP Director Kelvin Droegemeier “was outraged to learn of the materials that were not shared with or approved by OSTP leadership.”
 
"He first became aware of the documents when contacted by the press,” Baum said. " As a result, Dr. Droegemeier took swift action and the individuals responsible have been relieved of their duties at OSTP.” 
 
A spokesperson confirmed to The Hill that the "individuals responsible" referred to Legates and Maue. 

The officials may return to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), where they were hired before being detailed to the White House. 

NOAA spokesperson Scott Smullen told The Hill in an email that “the actions will be reviewed under NOAA's Scientific Integrity Policy,” but said the agency doesn’t discuss personnel matters. 

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“NOAA was not involved in the creation or posting online of the climate change flyers that have been allegedly attributed to the Office of Science and Technology Policy, nor does NOAA endorse the flyers. OSTP is investigating the issue," Smullen said. 

A non-governmental website for a group called the Center for Environmental Research and Earth Science published the so-called “Climate Change Flyers.”

Legates apparently wrote an introduction to the papers, which billed them as a briefs on “the current state-of-the-science on various topics of climate change.”

And a paper casting doubt on whether human-caused climate change was conclusively impacting hurricane activity in the Atlantic was attributed to Maue. There has been research finding that climate change is making hurricanes more intense. 

One paper takes on other topics like aiming to link climate change to sun cycles, though according to NASA, recent warming is too great to be caused by the sun.

Another of the participants, University of Alabama in Huntsville research scientist Roy Spencer, also posted the papers on his website, saying that Legates asked him and others to write “brochures that supported the general view that there is no climate crisis or climate emergency.

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Spencer indicated on his website that Legates “hopes to be able to get these posted on the White House website by January 20...but there is no guarantee given recent events.”

Legates, who was previously a professor, has pushed the discredited theory that the sun is responsible for climate change and disputed findings by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that found that human activity is responsible for global warming. 

Maue, meanwhile, has been known to question the science connecting climate change to extreme weather events.

Updated: 9:27 p.m.